2012 Emmy Nomination Predictions – Drama / Miniseries & Movie / Reality

Hi there! Welcome to the first in a two-part post about this year’s Emmy nomination, which are set to be announced by Nick Offerman and Kerry Washington on July 19. We’re coming off the back of an insanely good year in TV – Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Community, Louie, Archer, Homeland, Game of Thrones…there are a LOT of amazing shows and actors around at the moment which makes something like the Emmys rather hard to predict. Emmy voters are a fickle bunch. They can alternately be painfully conservative in their choices, or surprisingly forward-thinking. Now, I’ll admit right now that I’m not as up-to-date on the dramatic shows as I am on comedies, so where some of my predictions are coming from a place of my own knowledge, in other cases I am gauging them based on the opinions of other critics. So here goes!

Outstanding Drama Series (preferred winner italicised, otherwise in the order of likelihood to win)

Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire

I only watch four of these six shows – neither Downton Abbey nor Boardwalk Empire are really my thing – and I’m not up to season 5 of Mad Men (just yet, I’m halfway through season 4 and watching rapidly), but I’m pretty confident about these six nominees. There is a slight possibility that Dexter will be nominated again solely because the voters feel obligated, but by all critical accounts Dexter is just being edged out of the nomination field after an uneven sixth season. Mad Men has won four times in a row, and as much as I want Breaking Bad to win – its 4th season was one of the best ever, in my opinion – I think Mad Men will continue its streak. But here’s hoping Breaking Bad scores at least one win for being one of the best TV dramas ever made.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, Steve Buscemi, Kelsey Grammer, Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis

Bryan Cranston is the one to beat here, although I feel bad for Jon Hamm. He truly is brilliant as Don Draper, and he was absolutely robbed last year, no matter how happy I was for Kyle Chandler. However, this feels like the inverse of the Drama Series category, where Cranston will dominate and Hamm hopefully scrapes an award by the time the shows ends. Cranston is lucky in this category because he is such an anchor for the show, whereas Mad Men often gives way to supporting characters like Peggy, Pete, and Joan. Breaking Bad has a laser focus on the life of Walter White, and Cranston’s performance is one of the absolute best, and he has the advantage of being given material with far more gravity than Hamm. Not 100% sure that Damian Lewis will scrape into a nomination, but I think he truly deserves it, as anyone who has watched Homeland will attest.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Danes, Elisabeth Moss, Julianna Margulies, Elizabeth McGovern, Glenn Close, Mariska Hargitay

Claire Danes will win this award. That is honestly without dispute. Her performance in Homeland is often-times literally breath-taking, and she deserves this award. I feel somewhat conflicted, however, because I want Elisabeth Moss to win SOMETHING for playing Peggy Olsen. Having recently watched ‘The Suitcase’, I realise now that she absolutely should have won last year. Peggy is my favourite Mad Men character and Moss kills it in the role, but by all accounts her role in Season 5 was muted by comparison and she would be more at home in the Supporting category, where she could or would very likely win. The last three here I’m not 100% on, especially Close and Hargitay. But those two slots are up in the air, with Mireille Enos, Emmy Rossum, Jessica Pare and other all in contention in varying degrees. I don’t believe for a second that Hargitay deserves a nomination here – not that she is a poor actress – but I think she’ll managed to get nominated again out of regularity. Glenn Close will be nominated because Glenn Close.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul, John Slattery, Mandy Patinkin, Alan Cumming

This is one of the most stacked categories this year, with a serious embarrassment of riches in terms of great performances. I’m predicting a bit of an upset, solely because I can’t imagine anyone watching a Giancarlo Esposito submission episode and not vote for him. Gus Fring is one of the greatest villains in history, and yet he was somehow a villain you rooted for in small measures. Aaron Paul is brilliant in the same show, and Peter Dinklage is the returning winner and coming off a season in which he was at the forefront, but by comparison Dinklage just doesn’t have the material to best Esposito in my eyes. Slattery and Patinkin are welcome additions – depending on Homeland’s second season, watch for Patinkin as a possible favourite next year – and Cumming, while a great actor, will likely scrape in though there are likely more deserving nominees, like John Noble, Joel Kinnaman, Johnathon Banks, and so on.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Maggie Smith, Christina Hendricks, Kelly MacDonald, Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, Anna Gunn

Look, I love Maggie Smith to death. And from what I’ve seen of her on Downton Abbey, she’s great. But it’s not award-great. She can play an arch bitch with aplomb, but it’s such a nothing role for her, and this is a drama actress award. Which is why I’d give it to Christina Hendricks, even though I don’t think she quite has a chance against Smith who is an awards juggernaut in almost every capacity. Hendricks has done some insanely heavy lifting over the seasons on Mad Men and I strongly feel she deserves recognition, and this seems like the best year for her to do it. It’s close, but Dame Maggie will likely prevail, but I would be equally unsurprised for Hendricks to snap up her first Emmy. The rest of the field I don’t really care about because they are all on shows I barely watch, except Anna Gunn, who I think is seriously underrated as Skyler White. She cops it a lot from Breaking Bad viewers because the character is not terribly likeable, but Gunn does an excellent job with the role she has.

Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Game Change, American Horror Story, Hemingway and Gellhorn, Sherlock, Hatfields and McCoys, The Hour

No personal prediction from me here because I don’t care, but what used to be (and I wish still was) Downton Abbey’s category is now wide open, and I daresay Game Change will take it.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Movie/Miniseries

Clive Owen, Idris Elba, Woody Harrelson, Bill Nighy, Benedict Cumberbatch

Again, I don’t really care, but I’ll go with Idris Elba because he’s great in everything and this Emmys is turning out to be a depressingly white affair.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Movie/Miniseries

Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Emily Watson, Connie Britton, Rachel Weisz

The other four don’t matter, JuMo has this hands down.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries

Ed Harris, David Strathairn, Martin Freeman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes

Another bland category, but Harris will likely ride the Game Change wave.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries

Jessica Lange, Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Gillian Anderson, Frances Conroy

I’m extremely glad that American Horror Story has been submitted as a miniseries, even though that’s a bit of a dubious classification, because I don’t like the idea of Lange, who somehow won the Golden Globe and SAG, detracting from the chances of more deserving winners. Because while I love Jessica Lange, American Horror Story was a big, but entertaining, piece of shit.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

I’m not making any real prediction here, I just need to say that any show that isn’t RuPaul’s Drag Race is heinously undeserving.

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

Ditto above, but for RuPaul. It’ll probably be Jeff Probst again, which, ugh.

There we have that! My Comedy/Animated/Variety picks will be up in the next day or two. When the nominations are announced I’ll come back and see how I went!

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Okay, So Lara Bingle Might Just Be The Problem With ‘Being Lara Bingle’

Yeah, I know I wrote a post about how reality television should be intellectually engaged with and that the problem with Being Lara Bingle isn’t really Lara Bingle herself but moreso the concept that a semi-famous person of relative wealth is inherently worthy of attention. And that remains extremely true: this show is very much a commodification of a certain kind of lifestyle which is vaunted into importance essentially due to the fact that it’s vaguely aspirational and “how the other half lives”.

Except, if this is the other half, it’s hugely boring. I’m not sure how much of this is attribute to Bingle herself or the vacuum of personality around her – her mother is a stereotypically nasty reality mother, her manager is her best friend which makes for zero intrigue, and her brother who is Cronulla-bred bogan who refuses to acknowledge the correct pronunciation of “crème caramel”.

At one point in the first episode, things get so interesting that Bingle does yoga – exciting! – while her brother and BFF/M shop for bread – riveting! And then we’re told via vox pop that they have weird sexual tension. Show not tell, producers! A couple of other talking heads tell us how exciting and fun to be around Bingle is. She’s a party girl! Whee! That must be why exciting and fun is exactly what this show isn’t!

Shows like this can be interesting. Vapid though it is, The Rachel Zoe Project manages to combine the subject’s career – the politics of Hollywood stylists – with the personal drama that such a highfalutin job might bring. It’s often intolerably vapid, but at least there’s a point of interest throughout the show.

Being Lara Bingle‘s big moment comes when it’s revealed that nude photos have leaked of Bingle! OH NO! This would be really exciting if we totally didn’t already know that this happened! Some minor drama comes when Bingle is pulled over for driving in a bus lane, and then she has a suspended license! And she and her BFF/M are all, “OMG like, what is with these paparazzi, you know what I mean? Like, why are there so many like, today? Of all days?”

Well, it’s largely because basically every minute of this crapfest is staged. Halfway through I thought that the show’s biggest sin was that it wasn’t even interestingly bad. You couldn’t even hate-watch something so boring, because it’s so low-energy, unambitious and void of intrigue. By the end of it, though, I realised that about 3 minutes of television had occurred during the last 30, and the rest was padded out with filler shots, random shots of Bondi Beach and Lara Bingle talking about her dad which, you know, bummer, but it takes a little more than a bit of personal tragedy to humanise you or make you interesting. Sympathy won’t make people watch every week. Stuff happening would make people watch every week.

So yes, it’s terrible. Of course it is, look at the title, look at the premise. It’s chronically cheap-looking even for a docu-reality show, dialogue is forced and stilted, obviously prodded out of the subjects by overzealous producers. There’s simply not enough to Bingle or her life to make this show-worthy. Bingle’s job is to be a fake tan, bright blue eyes and a set of teeth veneers, and nothing in her personal life indicates that she’s able to push beyond that.

There’s nothing wrong with Bingle’s chosen career as a model, at all, but if you want to make a TV show about a person who is a model it needs to be a little bit more interesting than sitting on a chair and flashing some sideboob. If this show were about someone else’s day-in-the-life, it could be interesting. But if your subject lacks personality, so will your show.

In the end, I kinda just feel sorry for everyone involved. Bingle has reportedly been chased for this series for some time, and I’d wager that she gave in to try and revamp her public image and maybe make some coin. I can’t imagine any of the crew enjoying making this show. It seems like it would be difficult to even fill an episode with sufficient material. If the FIRST EPISODE, which as-of-yet has no particular narrative thrust and all the subject matter possible within the universe of the show, has to resort to forced, unnatural pseudo-flirting in the fucking bread aisle of a supermarket, then you know that’s you’ve got a dud on your hands.

Why Lara Bingle Is Not The Problem With ‘Being Lara Bingle’

At this point, I feel sorry for Lara Bingle. Not in a pitying sense – well, perhaps insofar as the fact that a reality show is a means of career progression for her – but in the sense that she has, essentially, become a pariah simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The issue at hand seems to be that Bingle is unworthy of the attention or adulation that having her own TV show might indicate. Part of the problem is that cultural discourse surrounding reality television is so negative. The way you hear people speak about, for example, the infamous trio of Kardashian women is particularly representative of this.

Now, if you’ve ever sat down and watched an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, you’ll know that it is a show that deserves to much of the maligning it receives – it’s vacuous, unrepresentative of reality, and reeks of a falsity that many would point to as evidence of a sharp decline in the quality of modern film and television. But that kind of vapidity doesn’t really warrant calling them “whores” or “sluts” or any number of other, often misogynistic, slurs. There are much better ways to criticise a show like that.

But there is a lot of misunderstanding about a genre of television that many people love to judge but do not actually watch. Reality television as we know it is largely symptomatic of the surge of information sharing afforded to us by the internet. In a world where you can be in constant contact with people basically anywhere on the planet, there is assuredly a market for television shows that provide an insight into any number of different cultures, societies and lifestyles.

Another reason for reality TV’s continued existence? It’s cheap. Unless you’re basically writing the whole damn show like they did with The Hills, you don’t need writers, or known actors, sets or many of the other costly aspects of producing a drama or a sitcom. And even then, writers for reality TV are often paid far, far less than their scripted programming counterparts.

But in Australia, Being Lara Bingle represents the first step toward a more Kardashian-ian approach to reality TV. We already have a storied history in reality – it just masquerades as ‘factual’ programming such as Bondi Vet or RBT or similar. Border Security has been a solid hit on our screens for many years, and never has there been as much uproar about its unique method of slyly shaming non-white people when they fail to follow customs laws as there has been about a 24 year old model being followed around by a band of almost definitely bored cameramen.

This idea that only Lara Bingle is getting something (a TV show) for nothing (for being pretty, I guess?) is extremely problematic. Reality TV is all about something for nothing. There’s nothing inherently television-worthy about the ‘Dr’ aspect of Dr Chris Brown of Bondi Vet. It could literally have been any veterinarian, but because he looks and charms like a Disney prince, he gets to have a TV show as well. This is how show business functions.

The point I’m trying to make is that it could have been anyone who got a show not dissimilar to Being Lara Bingle. In fact, something worse already exists – there’s a show on the Foxtel channel Arena called WAG Nation, about the tacky, leopard-print-laden lives of footballers’ wives.

What intrigues me most about all of this is the question of whether a male sporting star getting a reality TV show would provoke the same reaction? I sincerely doubt it. And yet there would be a lot of overlap. Both Lara Bingle and mythical popular sporting personality would have been long-rewarded for a career which is self-serving and directly and tangibly beneficial to no one but themselves.

It’s unpopular to say it in this country because sport is so revered, but playing rugby league for a living is basically modelling for a living but for blokes, which is even truer when you consider that straight women and gay men who watch are both enjoying the game and also the fact that it’s a DNA magazine cover come to life.

Again, I have no desire to see the continued existence of Being Lara Bingle, but there’s no sense in criticising Lara Bingle for it, especially without having seen the show. Criticise Channel Ten and the network executives from all networks who would rather spend money producing a reality show about a model or The Footy Show or a Masterchef contestant’s cooking for half an hour (or any such EXTREMELY niche programming) than providing much-desired jobs for directors, writers, producers and crew of scripted drama and comedy in this country.

All of this ignores the fact that there is some very good reality television being made. SBS’ award-winning series Go Back To Where You Came From is a particularly prescient example of this in Australia; elsewhere, RuPaul’s Drag Race manages to be one of the most wonderfully nuts, entertaining reality shows ever made while it also subtly satirises the very genre space it occupies.

There’s very little an individual can do about this. As long as there is a sufficient audience to make these kinds of shows profitable, they will continue to be made. The best thing an individual viewer can do to change the kind of local programming we get is to watch the hell out of the excellent local content we do get. Paper Giants was rightfully a hit; however, the brilliant ABC production Mabo drew only 544,000 viewers in its first airing. Ten cancelled Rush for low ratings, shows like Laid continued to decline in ratings as well. These are all quality Australian pieces of scripted television, but instead we all prefer to watch a bunch of bogans renovate a house or something and Rebecca Gibney cry every three seconds. Perhaps we get the television we deserve.